According to The Hollywood Reporter, the decision to redevelop and recast the role was made following last week’s table read. Underwood replaces Payet in the role of Isabella, the daughter of foreign diplomats, who is spending a year with the Landry family as an exchange student. Isabella’s presence shakes up life in this small town, but the truth about her past can’t stay hidden forever.
It was announced last week that Cruel Summer would return with a brand new cast, new showrunner, and new storyline for its second season. The latest installment is set in an idyllic waterfront town in the Pacific Northwest and follows the rise and fall of an intense teenage friendship. It will once again include multiple timelines, this time surrounding Y2K, tracking the early friendship and the love triangle of Megan, Isabella, and Megan’s best friend Luke.
In addition to Underwood, the cast also includes Sadie Stanley (The Goldbergs), Lisa Yamada (All American), Sean Blakemore (Greenleaf), and former Private Practice family Griffin Gluck, KaDee Strickland, and Paul Adelstein.
Underwood is best known for playing Pearl Warren in the Hulu drama series Little Fires Everywhere, the role which earned her an NAACP Image Award nomination last year. She currently portrays Malia Obama in the Showtime anthology series The First Lady opposite Viola Davis‘ Michelle Obama. Her previous credits include the Disney+ horror series Just Beyond, Netflix sitcom Family Reunion, and the Nickelodeon comedy Henry Danger.
Elle Triedman (Guilt) takes over from Tia Napolitano as showrunner for the second season. She will also executive produce alongside Jessica Biel, Michelle Purple, and Napolitano. Season 1 was the most-watched overall series debut ever on Freeform.
Cruel Summer, Season 2, TBA, Freeform